You have one truck moving south at 45 mph, following another truck moving 6 mph. How long before they meet each other and BLOW THE EFF UP? As if Algebra wasn't stressful enough! My favorite part of this genre pastiche were the scenes that amped up the tension involving the trucks and the nitro: loading the cargo, the driving scenes, blowing up the rock in the middle of the road. I knew stuff was going to 'splode, but I honestly didn't know when or how. So those moments were genuinely exciting for me. I also liked the way the tension of the situation exposed the true character of the four men--Luigi and Bimba come out pretty good, Mario and Jo, not so much.
The rest? It was odd. The first hour is a slow burn--establishing the desperation of the workers who take the quasi-suicidal mission in the midst of a sort of semi-offensive comedic portrayal of the South American villagers and expats. I would have appreciated all this scene setting a lot more if the socioeconomic critique was carried out. But then (spoiler alert), when the nitro hits the fan, the philosophy seems less Marxist than nihilist. We never really know what happened to the truck, and Jo's (spoiler alert again) last words coupled with Mario's fate seem to suggest that everything is ultimately meaningless. Nice and French, but it didn't seem to go with the rest of the movie.
I also wasn't a huge fan of the ending. It seemed tonally weird and a little too pat. I was *certain* Mario was going to hit the stray canister of nitro they left by the road, which would have been sort of "Final Destination" fun. But the pathos I think the last image was supposed to evoke left me hollow.
So, I'm glad I saw it, because it is quite famous, and the way the drive is filmed is pretty genius. But it didn't quite live up to my expectations. What sayeth the book? And how did you like Linda the Bimbo, Nat? Is she the one related to the director? That wouldn't surprise me.